Employment in the UK rose for another month, hitting a fresh high in January, according to the latest data released by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday.
Headline employment jumped from 74.5% at the last reading, to 74.6%, according to the ONS, with 37,000 more people in work.
According to an ONS release:
“The number of people in work increased by 37,000 in the 3 months to December 2016 to 31.84 million, with an increase in full-time employment (positive 45,000) partly offset by a fall in part-time employment (negative 7,000). Following 6 consecutive quarters of growth, the employment rate reached a new record high of 74.6%. However, the pace of employment growth in the second half of 2016 has moderated from the average rate experienced over 2012 to 2015.”
Headline unemployment remained unchanged at just 4.8% — a 10-year low. That was in line with forecasts from economists polled prior to the release, and unchanged from the last three months of data.
Here is the ONS’ chart showing the employment rate over the last five years:
ONS statistics come on the same day that a major report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showed that millions more people in Britain are struggling to make ends meet since the financial crisis and predicted that the situation could drastically worsen over the next few years as inflation spikes.
19 million people, are now below the “minimum income standard” [MIS], according to the report.
MIS is an income benchmark calculated by the Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) at Loughborough University. It is based on extensive surveys of people in the UK, asking them what they believe is a reasonable income.
MIS in 2016 for a single person of working age was £286.53 per week before bills, equivalent to £14,899 a year. For couples, it was £353.21 a week, or £18,366 a year. For a couple with two children, it was £776.28 a week, or £40,366 a year.
Since the Brexit vote, various economists and financial institutions have predicted that the UK’s unemployment rate will shoot up as a result of the vote to leave. Credit Suisse, for example, predicts an increase to 6.5% for the base rate, equivalent to roughly 500,000 jobs being lost. However, the last few months have seen the rate remain near its record low and Wednesday’s figures show the trend appears to be holding up.
The Bank of England expects unemployment to rise to 5.5% once the full effects of the referendum are felt across the economy, and in January Governor Mark Carney said in a speech he believes the bank saved up to 250,000 jobs by unleashing an unprecedented package of monetary stimulus in response to the UK’s Brexit vote.